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How Does Human Consciousness Work?

August 13, 2015 4 comments

How Does Human Consciousness Work? (Quora)

I have given up trying to explain why consciousness is not an emergent property and why emergence is incoherent when applied to consciousness, so this answer is only for readers who already understand that the eliminativist/materialist account of consciousness fails. This means that you understand that awareness cannot be something that physical objects do, or a quality that they have (panpsychism), or even that mind and matter are two parts of the same coin (dual aspect monism), but that all forms and functions, physical or logical, can only exist within a context of what might be called pansensitivity, or sensation-that-makes-sense. This is not to say that human consciousness is the center of the universe and that all phenomena must make sense to us, but that all phenomena must be present in some modality of detection and interaction. This can be understood rationally with no need of any empirical testing. All that is required is for us to play out the null hypothesis: If there is no possibility of any detection or interaction with phenomenon X, then phenomenon X is indiscernible from nothing at all.

The OP then, asking how human consciousness works, should be broken down into two separate parts:

1) How does awareness in general work?
2) How does human consciousness differ from awareness in general?

1) In consideration of the above, the ‘how’ of awareness becomes a metaphysical issue – it could be said even a meta-ontological issue. If awareness-in-general (or use my term pansensitivity) is the most primitive prerequisite for all phenomena in all possible universes, then we must retrain ourselves to stop looking for more primitive phenomena which compose awareness.

I think that we can say awareness is sensory-motive in nature. That is, there is a quality of passive perceiving and active participating which cannot be rationally done without. Even an atom or subatomic particle requires a context where its identity is made coherent in some way, where its presence is detected or can be inferred from some detection of its effects. In the absence of such a detection, again, there is no difference between such a particle and nothing at all. There is no context from which to derive that difference.

That doesn’t mean solipsism – it doesn’t mean that particles don’t exist unless we see them, but it does mean that the concept of ‘existence’ is incompatible with the existence of our own consciousness unless it is identical to detection/participation in some modality or context.

We need not posit a universal mind or God (although there is nothing that I am proposing which rules that out), only that existence itself in the absence of all perception is fantastically implausible given that 100% of what we know of the universe comes to us exclusively through perception. If the universe doesn’t need perception, then there would be no rational explanation for why some parts of the universe could evolve such a redundant and irrational feature to depend upon exclusively.

From this sensory-motive awareness-in-general, we can develop a hypothesis about how it divides and multiplies itself into different perceived forms and participatory functions. This entails performing a kind of Copernican inversion on our early 21st century* worldview, turning the outside (<matter>mass>energy>entropy>space) in, and the inside (pansense>sense<motive>significance>time) out. I don’t expect anyone to really understand that right away…it has taken me several years to put it together in those terms, but hopefully the general idea of the role that symmetry plays comes through. Suffice it to say, I think that how awareness works is that it plays with variations on itself using separation and reconnection on many levels at once. It’s very much like the view that has been a part of Eastern philosophy and Western mysticism for centuries, but with the important difference of plugging directly into modern models of physics and information.

As far as information goes, the sensory-motive primitive can be plugged into the medium-signal relation. Physics gives us a lot of these kinds of conjugates: surface-depth, electro-magnetism, space-time, mass-energy, etc, but when we are working with information and semiotics, we lose the concrete reality of sensation and substitute automatic, ideal abstractions of theoretical mechanics. Computer science and math do not concern themselves with how one number is able to add itself to another, only that there is a reliable result. Physics does focus on how phenomena interact, but not what those interactions actually are or what it is that is actually doing the interacting.

The Medium-Signal Relation
In a simple case of communication, two people might hold a string tight on opposite sides of a room and pull on the string once to indicate ‘yes/true/1’ and twice for ‘no/false/0’. In this case the string pulling, along with the tactile sensitivity of each person to detect the state of the string with their hands would be the medium. We can argue that behind that sensitivity is a lot of other cellular and molecular interaction, but that only pushes the medium down into the microphysical level of description. Even at the bottom, we still need some quantum-atomic sensitivity for any kind of basis of interaction to emerge (or diverge).

The combination of string pulling and any schema which is applied to the interpretation of those pulls would be the signal or sign. Many if not most people confuse ‘signals’ with the physical conditions (string pulling, neurons ‘firing’, semiconductors polarizing, etc), but a better understanding is that the signal is a semiotic interpretation; a conscious consideration of changing conditions within a sensory-motive medium.

Another metaphor that I like is brightness vs contrast. Brightness is the medium – if you have zero brightness there is nothing to see. Light, brightness, and the ability to see are, in the absolute sense, the same thing: a condition of awareness. Contrast stands in here for information or signal, which is a second-order relation of brightness and darkness. If you have no brightness, contrast doesn’t help, but if you do have brightness, then contrast allows many degrees of brightness and frequencies of its absorption to be presented simultaneously.

2) The difference between awareness in general and human consciousness is the incredible degree of elaboration, and the specific experiences which have shaped Homo sapiens. The degree of elaboration I’m referring to would be the number of steps from raw pansensitivity to particular subjective sense vs objectively distanced sense (matter-space), to organic molecules, to cells, to tissues, organs, animals, and vertebrates. The corresponding consciousness of such an elaborate chain of continuous world-crafting seems likely to be be appropriately rich and deep aesthetically. The base level sense and motive is enhanced by orders of magnitude to a heart wrenching, visceral level of participation.

I propose that the specific experiences which have shaped us individually and as a species lend our human consciousness its particular qualities. We share many qualities with other species – perhaps tender emotions with mammals, coarse emotions with reptiles, playful trickery with primates, etc. It’s all sourced in real experience over hundreds of millions of years. It is, in my view, very much like our individual psychology is shaped by our experience, and our families and societies are shaped by their histories. This is what makes human consciousness human, and this is why an AI cannot simulate who we are. A computer may copy the signals from the medium of our communications, or from the medium of neuroscience, but without the medium of the totality of human experience going all the way back to before the first life form, it will only be a kind of doll – an imitation of who we are cobbled together from what our brains are and how they behave.

*really legacy 20th century

Post-particle Light Model

July 12, 2015 Leave a comment
PhotoElectric_Effect lightatoms_demo

Diagram of conventional photon model vs MSR qualitative model.

In the MSR model, photons are figurative rather than literal. The two atoms are presented not as literal particles in space but as vectors of sharable experience.

The mode of signaling is not a literal waving of particles (as depicted in the gif) but a state of empathic/emotive stimulation.

The intent here is not to provide a finished model of electrodynamics. The idea is to give more of a general direction of how hypotheses might be developed using particle-free, aesthetic-empathic signaling.

The signal, or text is a shared quality of interiority which is generated by a masking and unmasking of context, which is the cosmological constant – an aesthetic-participatory ground symbolized here by the rainbow stripes. The black ovals symbolize a masking of the ground awareness which is localized. That masking should be understood to be a temporal, temporary localization…of locality. Spacetime is emergent from masking of the aesthetic ground. The masking can be understood to be entropy or insensitivity, the counter-aesthetic which makes it possible to confine and elaborate experience.

The Holo-solo-meta-sema-graphic Principle

February 21, 2015 1 comment

holographic

Think of the multisense continuum as a clarification of the holographic principle. What people often mean by holographic when ascribing it to the universe as a whole is something like ‘The Universe is not really real, but is a Matrix-like projection in which the totality is reflected in each part.’ If we ignore that theory for a moment and examine the linguistic origins of the word holographic instead, there are some worthwhile tie-ins to Multisense Realism. MSR is a way of stretching out this concept of holography, so that the extent to which it seems holographic is part of the hologram. Realism is not a fixed, absolute foundation, but an aesthetic quality of orientation. Realism is not a neutral designation of that which is factual versus that which is not, but also has a set of qualities, almost a personality which opposes the fantastic qualities of imagination, dreams, and psychosis. Where the aesthetics of fantasy are typically saturated, vivid, or florid, realism is relatively bland or rigid. Realism supports rigorous logic and causality. A graph can be thought of as the essence of realism in a way – not reality itself, but the mapping of the mappable aspects of reality…a realistic approach to realism.

Notice that holos and graph are polarized. They aren’t simple opposites where graph = parts and holos = whole, although graphing does break wholes into regular parts, but there is also a sense of a graph is of a static mental resource; an object or so called rigid body which we use to index information. A graph is a chart.* By contrast, holos is the uncharted and boundless context which does not respect strict divisions.

Holos means whole, but if you look up the etymology of hologram there is something interesting:

hologram (n.)1949, coined by Hungarian-born British scientist Dennis Gabor (Gábor Dénes), 1971 Nobel prize winner in physics for his work in holography; from Greek holos “whole” (in sense of three-dimensional; see safe (adj.)) + -gram.”

So holos doubles as a term that has something to do with feeling ‘safe’:

safe (adj.) c.1300, “unscathed, unhurt, uninjured; free from danger or molestation, in safety, secure; saved spiritually, redeemed, not damned;” from Old French sauf “protected, watched-over; assured of salvation,” from Latin salvus “uninjured, in good health, safe,” related to salus “good health,” saluber “healthful,” all from PIE *solwos from root *sol- “whole” (cognates: Latin solidus “solid,” Sanskrit sarvah “uninjured, intact, whole,” Avestan haurva- “uninjured, intact,” Old Persian haruva-, Greek holos “whole”). “

This root sense of wholeness as safety, solidity, health, healing, etc is the natural anchor of anchors…the foundational aesthetic (of the aesthetic foundation). All experiences in all possible universes must begin from this un-locused locus. Un-locused because it precedes its own definition or observation. The baby at the boob has no frame of reference, no learning process to understand the importance of nutrition or survival – there is only to appreciate the experience of being re-connected to the womb’s holos in a new and disorienting context…What is this context?

-graph modern word-forming element meaning “instrument for recording; that which marks or describes; something written,” from Greek -graphos “-writing, -writer” (as in autographos “written with one’s own hand”), from graphe “writing, the art of writing, a writing,” from graphein “to write, express by written characters,” earlier “to draw, represent by lines drawn” (see -graphy). Adopted widely (Dutch -graaf, German -graph, French -graphe, Spanish -grafo). Related: -grapher; -graphic; -graphical.”

Compared with holos, -graph is a very different kind of term. Where holos is a rich and profound metaphor, -graph is a relatively prosaic and literal term about something in the real world…writing or recording. Holos is an appreciation of primordial safety; an orientation to a frame of reference which is absolute and beyond thought. Once someone is born into a human life or an animal’s life, this holos is buried in a cocoon of defenses which face the anti-holos of spacetime and physics and the sense that was formerly whole is averaged out as

“sole (adj.) “single, alone, having no husband or wife; one and only, singular, unique,” late 14c., from Old French soul “only, alone, just,” from Latin solus “alone, only, single, sole; forsaken; extraordinary,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to se “oneself,” from PIE reflexive root *swo- (see so).”

As a sole individual in a physical world, we have developed ways to re-connect with each other. Some of them are ways of reconnecting to our shared history as mammals and primates, and some, like writing are more recent human inventions. The idea of writing is to inscribe a thin stream of thought into physics, into spacetime so that others can recreate it in their local experience. It’s a bridge, a trans-fer or meta-phor, which means carrying over of feeling or meanings. What is the carrier?

semaphore (n.)”apparatus for signaling,” 1816, probably via French sémaphore, literally “a bearer of signals,” ultimately from Greek sema “sign, signal” (see semantic) + phoros “bearer,” from pherein “to carry” (see infer). Related: Semaphoric (1808).”

The sema- or sign is a recontextualized piece of the world. We use it to passively bear our sharing of communication, as an insulator would bear a conducting wire, or a conducting wire would bear an electromagnetic flux. There are layers of nesting which span the continuum from holos to solus to meta to sema to graph.

Wholeness to self to likeness to sign to signed. The distance between our human self and the ‘signed’ or ‘graphed’ physical world is what gives that physical world its gravitas…its grave realism. Mortality adds a layer of biological gravity…the signs which threaten the self of the experience of life. The closer that a given phenomenon is to the whole, the more it is metaphorical and self-referential.

Once we grasp this continuum, we can see how subjective and objective phenomena are an elaboration of a theme of awareness and degrees of alienation from the whole. We can go into more advanced areas of understanding the continuum and see that while the graph end of sense reflects in micro the holos itself, it is only a reflection and has no generative power of its own. Even though we locally experience a tension between the holos and graph which seem equal, or even overpowered by physics, that is only because of how deeply our human experience is nested within billions of sensations, feelings, and thoughts since the beginning of spacetime.

In the absolute frame of reference, all is consumed by, with, and for holos. The graph appearance, and even the holographic principle is the local view of the self’s experience of being alienated. It’s a compromise between Descartes’ substance dualism and Eastern/perennial philosophy’s holism, but it is still fixed in the Cartesian graph of spacetime and Newton’s mechanics of mass and energy. We imagine that each physical particle is a packet containing a ghost of the whole, but I think that it now makes more sense to say that it is the particle itself which is, in the absolute frame or reference, more like the ghost. It’s relativistic, but all relation traces back to the orientation of the absolute. There is no orientation derived purely from disorientation, which is why we cannot build a sign or a self or a holos from a machine (graph).

*Descartes, whose family name means ‘of the charts’, and also can be associated with the French word charteus, meaning pertaining to papyrus/paper has an interesting connection to the role of Rene Descartes in developing the digital view of space in terms of Cartesian coordinates. Cards, charts and papers refer to objects which carry meaning – blank vehicles to be used either as a container for metaphor, or as the medium of choice for a stream of digital semaphores. The critical place that Descartes holds in the development of the Early Modern Period, cannot be overstated. In his 1641 Meditations, Descartes divided the cosmos, for better or worse, into mind and matter (res cogitans and res extensa), paving the way for Newton, Leibniz and others to see physics as an expression of precise mathematical truths. The Enlightenment Era marks the Western world’s separation from perennial, Eastern philosophy and the discovery of a new, Cartesian world of purely mechanical objects. The card, or graph aspect of the cosmos is seen as the new orientation, a counter-aesthetic to one which assumes theistic holos. The Western counter-aesthetic of modernism questions the beliefs of the past, asserting instead that the natural world is innocent of religious enchantment until proven otherwise.

Bang!

March 24, 2014 Leave a comment

If Big Bang was a singular event that created space, time and matter, then one must view the universe as a rapidly expanding billiards table of N dimensions with all events pre-determined. There can be no intervening force or new element of causality possible. There can be no uncertainty, and any notions of either free will or divine intervention are illusory.

If the Big Bang created time, then I think that it should not be thought of as an event (in time), but rather as the hub that all events have in common. The Big Bang never happened, it did happen, it is still happening, it hasn’t happened yet. Because we are measuring it from inside of spacetime, and using instruments that are limited to only the most generic spatial-quantitative measurements, our results reflect a narrowly defined model of the origin of causality itself. It is the fallacy of the instrument – we have a hammer of physics so everything that physics measures looks like a nail. What I propose instead is a Big Diffraction, where the birth of spacetime is an influx of dissociation into countless semi-permeable perceptual frames of reference that are united beyond spacetime.

If we place ourselves in the moment of the Big Bang, we cannot judge it on a human scale of time, since that scale of time had not been invented yet. If the universe itself is awareness, the first trillionths of a second of the invention of time are no less likely to feel like five minutes than they are an eternity. As the singularity breaks into multiplicity (Tzimtzum for fans of the Kabbalah), it is inventing the possibility of multiplicity for the first time. Eternity is spawning micro-eternities in which each micro-view is stretching out eternity so that it seems both ever longer and slower and seems to have originated in an ever more brief instant. Time is all about comparing frequencies of awareness – beats per measure. Time is relativistic because time is relativity itself – the framing of perceptual reference.

What we see through a telescope is an objectified version of the story of objectification that serves as a creation myth for the anti-mythology of functionalism. Free will was never inside of spacetime to begin with. It was not created, it creates. If free will is illusory, then it is that which is illusory which gives birth to realism and physics, not the other way around. The universe is a single thread of singing, signaling, significance-building experience,weaving and winding through a maze of its own self-imposed alienation. Divinity is optional, and free will is scarce, but the universe is only a billiard table if you limit the vocabulary of inquiry to that of billiard balls.

Time for Nested Causality

March 5, 2014 Leave a comment

chronos2What do you about the simultaneity of cause and effect?

“The greater part of operating causes in nature are simultaneous with their effects, and the succession in time of the latter is produced only because the cause cannot achieve the total of its effect in one moment. But at the moment when the effect first arises, it is always simultaneous with the causality of its cause, because, if the cause had but a moment before ceased to be, the effect could not have arisen…. The time between the causality of the cause and its immediate effect may entirely vanish, and the cause and effect be thus simultaneous, but the relation of the one to the other remains always determinable according to time.” (Kant, 1787, The Critique of Pure Reason)

 I suggest that time has a linear quality within the center of any given reference frame, but that every reference frame bleeds into nested frames of larger and smaller scales of ‘now’. What is separated for us by days or hours is simultaneous in another sense. The smaller nows nested beneath our reference frame increasingly lose their proprietary, narrative quality and are reduced to the appearance of generic perpetual oscillations of the ‘same’ moment (tick tock). Time, therefore, has three different aesthetic/ontological gears – two types of eternity (an elemental, vibrational one at the bottom, an eternal, synchronistic one at the top) and a range of unfolding semi-causality sandwiched in between.
As the crickets’ soft autumn hum
is to us
so are we to the trees
as are they
to the rocks and the hills.
   – Gary Snyder

A New Final Frontier

February 9, 2014 3 comments

If Dark Matter and Dark Energy represents 96% of the “known” universe, even if it paradoxically turns out that we know virtually nothing about it, what other kinds of ratios-in-ignorance lurk as shockingly in our self-significant lives? – Quora Question

There are 23% of Dark Matter and 73% of Dark Energy.

Next time that you are in room with another person, take a moment to realize what that room looks like from the other person’s perspective. Imagine being that person and seeing the room from their perspective. Now imagine that moment in which you are imagining yourself as them as a fleeting instant in their lifetime in which your presence is all but completely unnoticed. Understand that moment is, for them, only one of an eternity of moments of a life completely other than your own.

The degree to which their age, gender, cultural identity and personal experience differs from your own is the degree to which the life they have been living is different from your own – different views of history where different events are weighted differently in significance. Events which are historical to you are, for an older person, events in their own lives which have not entirely passed, but rather live on as changes which happen to no longer be present, but whose influence can be traced through their future, backwards.

Now extend this expectation of other lives to animals and plants, no matter how small, to cells, and perhaps even to genetic histories, to chemistry and physics. Histories and perspectives so alien that the smallest hydrogen nuclei have more in common with the largest stars than they have differences, and measures of time become liminocentric, with the infinitesimal moment blurring into the astronomical eternity, and the blasting of singular furnace of mass into hypercardinal intergalactic multiplicities is divided up into all-but-infinite fractals of all-but-infinite moments of multisense realism. Each moment, each perspective a holographic reflection of itself within the fisheye reflection of the whole that it embodies. Each perspective is bound to a private cache of evanescent histories, transparent and shifting in the changing light of the mood and the moment.

What we don’t see of the universe, by virtue of the limitation of our perceptual tunnels as individuals, as humans, as animals and organisms…what we don’t see of each others experience and of the experience on scales beyond that of organic life dwarfs the ratio of dark energy. What is elided from our experience and possible experience is the true final frontier.

The Opportunity Principle

January 23, 2014 Leave a comment

A better way to model photons, and other elementary particles would be as opportunities for discernment. Instead of seeing them as entities whose measurement presents uncertainty to us, think of the uncertainty as the entity itself. The photon is like a cursor – it is present where the action is at the moment – it points to the moment, and to the opportunity for interpretation of the moment. Bosons and Fermions are not like forcers and forcees, but more like trails left behind from motivation etching sensation into sense.

Our experience of light is of that which enables visual sense. Vision is a mode of sensory presentation and representation based on aesthetic distinctions. Foreground/background, contrasting color qualities and intensities. Each photon should not be considered a physical phenomenon in its own right, but rather as a fragment of vision or sensation. It is not like a pixel, since the pixel requires an observer to be seen. The photon should not be thought of as a particle or a wave, but as a chance to detect and interpret. Whether we see a light or feel heat, whether it is part of an interference pattern or a collection of wholes composed of no parts, whether it is within our experience or beyond our understanding…all of these possibilities are presented at the elemental level. Each ‘particle’ is a window not just on the Totality, but on the self-masking, self-reflecting, transparency-augmenting nature of nature. The fabric of the universe is both certain, uncertain, and a participation in self-definition.

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